A series of flower thefts from a church cemetery have left local residents “distraught” according to the church’s priest.
Father Jeremy Sheehy of St. Peter’s Parish, Swinton, said he was made aware of the news after several women came to him reporting the flowers they had laid were missing:
“They told me it had happened and that they were distraught,” he said.
“I was sad that anybody would take flowers from where cremated remains had been interred. I thought it was a rather low point in one’s expectation of people.”
Thefts at the cemetery have been reported on social media within the past month, with one person saying they’ve had ornaments and vases stolen from loved ones’ graves.
Another person said a figurine they placed on a parent’s grave was stolen.
The latest incident is only one of several to have happened over the last few months, with Father Sheehy describing the acts as “sheer vandalism.”
“It’s pure mischief making. I can’t imagine there would be much resale value in one solitary flower arrangement. I would have thought there were much easier ways of making a few pennies,” he said
Father Sheehy says the vandals have been targeting the front row. Three of the memorial tablets belong to the husbands of recently bereaved women, who tend to the spot regularly.
Upon hearing the news, Councillor Bill Hinds said he is “very saddened. It must be distressing to those who have laid them there. Sometimes I feel the respect I grew up with is now disappearing.”
Councillor Derek Antrobus is “disappointed that people can be so thoughtless and selfish.
It’s caused a great deal of distress and outrage in the local community and all three councillors for Swinton North utterly condemn this behaviour.”
The thefts have not yet been reported as a criminal act, and Father Sheehy is uncertain on how the issue could be tackled effectively:
“I wouldn’t have thought that it’s anything the higher-ups can take action about. Not that I’m disappointed that they haven’t, I just wouldn’t have thought there is anything they can realistically do,” he said.
A perpetrator is yet to be identified.